Of all attachment styles, fearful avoidants are the most likely to do no contact following a break-up. In this article I will discuss the top 7 reasons why fearful avoidants do no contact.
Are there good reasons (and situations) where no contact is healthy? Yes.
For example: to heal from the break up, space to reflect on one’s shortcomings and do some changing and growing. And sometimes one just wants to “forget everything” and move on with their life.
But not everybody understands that “no contact” as a strategy for attracting back an ex is more than anything attachment avoidance coping.
Avoidance coping—also known as avoidant coping, avoidance behaviors, and escape coping—is a maladaptive form of coping in which a person changes their behavior to avoid thinking about, feeling, or doing difficult things (Elizabeth Scott, PhD).
A fearful avoidant attachment style
A fearful avoidant attachment style is when someone is afraid of being too close but also afraid of being too distant from someone they love and care about. They:
- Want contact but fear being seen as ‘needy’.
- Need emotional connection but fear being smothered or taken advantage of.
- Long for intimacy but fear letting someone down and/or being let down.
When a relationship ends, a fearful avoidant attachment natural instinct is to avoid contact. They see a break-up as a rejection of who they are and don’t know how to stay close to someone who rejects them. But they also don’t know how to stay away from someone they love. Most fearful avoidants go back and forth, no contact then contact and then no contact.
Besides, trying to avoid contact over the years working with men and women, young and old, from all backgrounds, I have identified other reasons why a fearful avoidant naturally gravitates to no contact. Many of these reasons have to do with a fearful avoidant being insecure and having a poor self-image.
These are the top 7 reasons why fearful avoidants do no contact
1. Feeling helpless
“No contact” especially appeals to people who fear that any kind of contact could increase or intensify the problems in the relationship. Because fearful avoidants feel helpless to change anything, they choose instead to “hide” and hope that the problems will go away on their own — and when they reappear from “no contact” everything will be fine.
2. Things ended badly
Most likely the break-up was nasty – things that should have not been said were said, or an ex is angry and hostile. A fearful avoidant thinks that “no contact” is a good way to avoid further “messing things up”. They believe that no contact will allow any bad feelings to go away. Most are unaware that this very act of “trying not to further mess things up” may actually create new problems.
3. Lack of self-confidence
Someone who is not psychologically prepared to deal with the emotions of trying to attract back their ex may see no contact a way to manage emotions. If you have no plan or strategy to attract back your ex, no contact may seem like a good idea. You don’t have to do anything. All you have to do is try so hard not to contact your ex — and wait for your ex to contact you!
4. Issues with being needy and/or controlling
Fearful avoidants especially those who lean anxious are needy, dependent or feels that they had less “power” and control over what happened in the relationship. “No contact” makes them feel like they’re finally in control of the situation. Because of their past behaviours, they’re so afraid, that any sign of wanting contact may be interpreted as a sign of neediness and weakness and their ex may conclude that they’re still desperately in love. For as long as they are in no contact, they can hide their feelings (and undesired behaviours). It’s an illusion. Once contact is re-established (it eventually has to if one wants to get back his or her ex), the neediness begins all over again.
5. Hesitation/reservations about the relationship
Fearful avoidants are so afraid of rejection that they’re never sure about what they want. They see no contact as buying time to figure out if they want to get back together or not. They may even think there is someone else out there and see no contact as space to date other people. And if they are seeing someone new, they opt for no contact to avoid making a decision one way or the other. They keep you hoping that when you finally re-establish contact, you’ll get back together.
6. Way of dealing with a great loss
For some people no contact is their way of dealing with loss; fearful avoidants included. They may even want their ex back but do no contact to avoid rejection and disappointment when it doesn’t happen. This ties in well with their other avoidance coping behaviours.
7. Send a message
Someone afraid of giving false hope might see no contact as a polite way of gently sending someone off. They’re afraid of how the other person might react and prefer an avoidant way of dealing with the situation.
A short-term solution to a long-term problem
These reasons for doing no contact make a lot of sense and even seem rational. But like all avoidant coping strategies, they are short term solutions to long term problems. They are not the healthiest ways of dealing with relationship problems, resolving relationship conflict or inspiring a loved one to return to a relationship.
Many people I work with after no contact find themselves too scared to reach out to their ex. They lost confidence during no contact. They changed their behaviours (even the good ones) to avoid thinking, feeling, or doing relationship-building things. Now they don’t know what to say or act with their ex.
Attachment avoidance makes it hard for your ex to fully trust you
When we avoid dealing with what makes us uncomfortable, we leave problems unresolved and resentment builds up. Too much time passes, it makes no sense to contact an ex who may or may not have moved on.
Even for people who “get back together” after no contact, the reunion often doesn’t last very long. The “new relationship” falls apart when put to the test. Many so-called “got back together after no contact” relationships are nothing beyond “re-establishing contact” temporarily. Hurray! My ex came back, damn it, it’s over again.
If you find yourself strongly pulled towards ‘no contact’, take a good look at your attachment style. You may find that many of your relationship problems originate from how you see and avoid closeness.
Why Avoidants Get Angry When You Reach Out After No Contact
Attachment Styles And Why Your Ex Doesn’t Want You Back
QUICK TIP: Your Ex Asking For Space Doesn’t Mean Don’t Contact Them
I was doing no contact, and thank God I found this site. I immediately sent my ex a text and she replied 20 minutes later. We talked for about 20 minutes. It was light and we even had a couple of laughs. I ended the conversation with ‘talk to you soon’, and she said “talk to you soon”. Great advice thanks.
Yangki, I love your website and especially love everything you say about No Contact. As a recovering alcoholic with codependency issues, what is well understood is the AA circles is that enmeshment and total cut-off are two sides of the same coin. For people with codependency issues, there seems to be no middle ground. It’s either total enmeshment or complete cut-off.
I just thought this might add some insight into the background drama behind No Contact.
Thank you so much for this additional information, and thank you for sharing your personal struggles. I just wish more people were as honest about the “the background drama behind No Contact” as you are, they’d have better chances at getting back with the one they love.
I wish you continued success staying sober… (:
I am a big believer in the value of time apart to strengthen the relationship if it’s done in the right way for the right reasons, and if there are clear agreements from the start.
I agree that there can be value in time apart, for SOME people, situations or relationships. The catch is that it’s of value only if it’s done the right way, for the right reasons, and with a clear agreement and/or reasonable expectations.
It also depends on the bond between two people. If the bond is so weak (one or both parties have been distant or not connected for a while), time apart may actually hurt instead of help. In such cases, it’s best to try to become closer and more connected than stay apart and become even more disconnected/grow further apart.
Thank you for replying and your absolutely right. I have allowed him to treat me this way. I am tired of this hurt and i feel horrible about myself. He puts everything on me, saying things like ” you never let me break up with you”. This is a person who is never forced into doing anything. Thank you for being honest, how do I change this?
The way you presented the situation before was a little different. After reading this… you are not going to like what I have to say…
” you never let me break up with you” sound like words from someone frustrated with you being needy and clingy. I don’t think it’s necessarily being mean trying to extricate yourself from someone who is suffocating you. It’s survival.
I have been invlolved with my ex for nearly 2 years. We have been on and off the entire relationship. He has used the no contact with me from the go. The most recent being Thursday. I will never understand why he does this. In the past he has always come back and it will be good, until I do something to piss him off. Then it’s the same thing, I have found myself modifying my behavior and apologizing for my feelings. The end result of all this is i am insecure , clingy and find it difficult to let go. He has blocked me from text, phone and email. This is a cruel way to treat someone.
It’s indeed a cruel way to treat someone. Reality though is that you teach people how they treat you. He treats you cruelly because you are ALLOWING it.
Thank you for that response, it validates what I’m thinking and feeling. I have to say the temptation to get pulled in to her games is still there but I’m getting stronger. Reading your blog daily has really helped me see how toxic the relationship was. I’m proud of myself and it’s a long time since I felt this way.